my world and Matisse

I aspire to glide through my world, to be the milk that rises up, delicate and unassuming, to form wispy clouds in my coffee. To be one of Matisse’s dancers, that sure of my place and my next step, with the serenity born of being perpetually positioned to welcome the sapphire sky. To pass the time, however it may unfold, much as the weather passes overhead. West to east, the same every time. I seek consistency not through effort but by temperament.

Usually I fail. I bump up against my life as if I am newly blind and it is newly deaf. I sputter and then buck into action. Too much, too late. I am rough when I mean to be smooth, I smile when I ought to cry. Out of step. It’s not by accident, I think, that I was born left-handed in a right-handed world.

But once in a while I get it right. I tousle my dog’ hair, and its do not duck away. I do not say the wrong things to my children. I write the words I’d dreamed of writing, and when I read them, later, I do not turn away, bitter and hard, because the translation to the page hasn’t been a compromise at all, but just — just! — the unvarnished truth.

If I were a musician, I’d work for those times. I’d stand on a street corner and play my violin for you, and you could throw not your spare change but a fistful of grace here, a couple of moments of serenity there.

I want nothing more than to be my life. Not to peek around its edges to see what lies beyond. Not to reduce it, protect it, analyze it, nudge it, ignore it, denigrate it, but to BE it.

To blend so seamlessly into my days that you couldn’t begin to identify where I stop and they start.

I have tasted acceptance. It’s an acquired taste, for sure. Once or twice I’ve even been able to swallow it.

It’s not so different from that milky morning coffee, which in my twenties I despised. In my thirties I warmed to it, and in short order I craved it. Now I need it. It has become one of the essential things.

I am warming to acceptance, and in the distance I spy the place where it will finally seduce me, where Matisse’s dancers wait so patiently to embrace me, to take me as one of their own.

Henri Matisse, The Dance (1910)


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